Eye for an Eye or Turn the other Cheek?


A really good friend of mine who happens to be Catholic brought this to my attention. She said, " In the Old Testament it say's an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, and so forth than in the New Testament it say's turn the other cheek. So, which one do we follow?"

Same Bible, but two different messages.

Exodus 21: 24


Matthew 5:39 and Luke 6:29



Please tell me your thoughts and views.

God bless,


I look at it as a parallel with the teaching on divorce from old testament to new testament. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 says
24 If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house,

2 and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man,

3 and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies,

4 then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord. Do not bring sin upon the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

And then Matthew 19:7-9 states it thusly:

7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.

9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

So it's not so much that God's idea on the subject changes, as indeed God is perfect truth, but that our nature's needed to and need to change. When in doubt, we should follow what the New Testament says, because Jesus is the Way.


That’s precisely the parallel I was thinking of too. In the Old Testament Moses permitted divorce because their “hearts were hard” - but it was not the law from the beginning. Either way, we are followers of Christ - the old Covenant was fulfilled with Christ, now we follow the new Covenant established by Christ.

Remember, Christ also caused shockwaves when He told the rich that it would be difficult for them to get into Heaven. At that time, wealth was taken to be a sign of God’s favour - illness and poverty were a sign that God was giving punishment. Christ showed that that is not God’s law, by showing the poor and weak His favour.


I think we follow what Jesus said, because He fulfilled the Law. So what He said is more relevant for us. In the Old Testament, the reason it said “eye for an eye” is actually God putting a restriction on people, because people tend to do more than that… when Jesus came, He showed the fulness of this truth (He is truth), because the time was right for that.


I agree one hundred percent, this is a very good point to make!


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